Autonomy is the “ability of a system as part of SoS to make independent choices. This includes managerial and operational independence while accomplishing the purpose of SoS."[1]

Managerial independence is the self-management of each of the parts of a system, as well as the systems that compose the global system.

The component systems not only can operate independently, they do operate independently. The component systems are separately acquired and integrated but maintain a continuing operational existence independent of the system-of-systems.[2]

Operational independence means that a system's functionality is not depending on other (sub-) systems.

“If the system-of-systems is disassembled into its component systems the component systems must be able to usefully operate independently. That is, the components fulfill customer-operator purposes on their own.[2]


An autonomous system is "situated within and a part of an environment in pursuit of its own agenda"[3].

A System of Systems must be capable of making decisions on its own and without the intervention of people. The constituent systems within an SoS work autonomously which means they are independent from other systems in their actions, decision making, etc.

An exception for this is the dependency on systems like information management components. (see information distribution)


An SoS has the ability to give priorities to tasks or training and develops in a logical order and without duplication.

The system also draws feedback from itself to further improve. Therefore it needs to gather information of itself by sensors and other methods.

  • Self-structuring: Establishing a hierarchical arrangement of systems and components according to their functions and preferences. Possible outcomes are networks in which the systems they consist of arrange themselves by knowing key parameters from each other.


  • Self-healing: Ideally an SoS has the ability to solve software and maintenance problems in order to keep functioning.



  1. Gorod et al., 2008.
  2. Maier, 1998.
  3. Garrett et al., 2010.


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